Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chasing Christmas.....

There is a book that I want to share with all of you.  I read this book, every year to my classes, when I was the librarian at Parkside Elementary.  It's a children's book by Richard Paul Evans, "The Light of Christmas".  It gives a very clear view on what's truly important, not just at Christmas, but all year long.  Children and adults have lost sight of what the day truly represents...and I too am guilty.

Yes, I am already thinking about Christmas!  Not shopping, but decorating and baking!  I've always been an 'extreme' decorator, at Christmas.  I used to do a different tree, every year.  It was a wonderful challenge to take on; coming up with a new idea each year.  I would not 'purchase' an idea, I would create it.  It's not like I was spending an exorbitant amount of money.  Anyone can purchase decor, there is no creation in that...but to make it yourself...that's where the fun lies!

One year I did a gold fan tree.  I purchased cheap gold glass ornaments from Walmart, but I made a series of different sized fans, out of heavy gold wrapping paper.  The tree was then trimmed in all white was simple, but very elegant.  Eventually as life became busier, i.e. children, I decided I needed to find a tree decor I could live with for a number of years.  I could no longer have a new themed tree each year.

I wanted a tree that felt like 'home'.  I didn't want it to be singular in color or design, I wanted it to feel old fashioned.  I knew I couldn't do the store bought feels very cheap to me.  Sooo I made, by hand, my own garland.  I rummaged for every piece of red, green, and white plaid material I could find and cut 2 inch hearts out of it.  The plaid didn't need to match, in fact it was much better if it didn't.  I stuffed and hand sewed I don't know how many of these little hearts, then strung them together.  I loved that garland, not only was it homemade, but I could tell you where each piece of it's material came from.  This tree is so stuffed with everything from tiny birdhouses to reindeer, to quilted Santas, and lights that could rival Chevy Chase's house.  The final touch is Baby's Breath spread throughout, and the top is a fountain of cranberry sprigs, with a wonderful heart made out of pine cones.  A tree I could live with for a very longtime....

With all this being said, I believe the one thing I've been chasing all those years, and have yet to catch, is the Christmas of my youth.  Again, it was moments from my childhood that rekindle those warm feelings; individual ornaments, distinctive days, special gifts, and time in the kitchen with my mom...and the way my dad always bedded the barn down with straw, for the cows, every Christmas Eve.  He always told me that at midnight, if you were to walk out to the barns, you would find all the animals facing towards the North star.  I never wanted to put his words into question, the idea that an event like that occurred was just too magical to witness, it was just enough to believe!   And I know, you can never go back and capture those moments again...but the 'look', of that time, I can recreate.

I've been on a mission, that's what I call it.  I think Bill might say it's more like an obsession, possibly true...mission, obsession...they're both 'sion' words, let's not quibble over meanings   I had been thinking a lot about our Christmas Tree.  I am in a different house, without my old tree, nor any of my decorations. It's not a bad thing, in fact it's about re-inventing yourself.  We get stuck sometimes, just because of what we have invested...or so we think.  We stay in jobs we don't like because they are paying us just enough and we have benefits (ooo, ahhh), or a marriage because of the years we've spent together, or a decor because you spent too much money on it to do anything else.  Time people, we only have a certain amount of time on this earth...need I say more...refer to the blog before this one!!  I do digress...I decided, or should I say I followed the signs, to do a retro tree, looking for the ornaments of my childhood.

It sort of all started when I found these very cool turquoise colored, glass ornaments, at Goodwill.  They were could I say no?  Then I hit nirvana...Bill and I followed the signs one day to a garage sale, marketed as "Hoarders Estate Sale"....again how could we say no?  Hoarder was putting it mildly, but what great fun to rummage through this amazing stuff!   We found books, go figure...that's another story for another day.  Bill is very into old textbooks...he's a teacher, need I say more.  We found some interesting texts, along with a couple of calendars from the 1960's, with pictures of popular decor of the times.  I want to tear these calendars apart, very badly, and put them into frames...I've not convinced Bill that this is a good idea.  They are in pristine condition, he hates to see them! lol

 So long story short, Bill is paying for his finds of the day (which by the way happened to be a set of leather bound encyclopedias dating back to 1936 ...very cool) when what to my amazement I find a big box that no one has gone through, or priced, and it's full of Christmas stuff.  I start digging through this box...I had hit oil!  Bill looks at me and sees that I have found something.  He walks over, after having unloaded the first round of treasurers, and asks what I had found.  I didn't want to say this too loudly, I didn't want someone else edging into my territory.  I say, "I found stuff"!  He looks at me and shakes his head, grins, and asks, "So how much is this 'stuff' you've found?"  I shrug my shoulders, I've no clue, but I didn't grow up around horse traders for nothing.  I told him to give me a minute.  My objective is to get one low price for this entire box!  The people running this shindig have to go into their house and bring out the all knowing soothsayer of pricing...grandma I guess.  She tells me she didn't even know they had this box..."Let's see what's in it!" I am thinking noooooo, don't go through this, it's rainy, you're old, you have no business bending over that far to dig in this box, it's just not healthy or wise....AND I DON'T WANT YOU TO SEE THE ANTIQUE ORNAMENTS!  Well she digs through the entire box, I remain silent, not wanting to appear too excited.  She then stands up and says, how 'bout $25.00 for the lot, and I say DEAL!!!   Bill hands her the cash and we are off ornaments in my lap, doing Show and Tell for Bill, as we drive through the quiet Amish country had been a good day!

Well that's how it all started...Hoarder's Paradise, it's been downhill from that point on...or actually uphill!  I've found some great buys on Ebay, and at a wonderful second hand shop in Ligonier, Indiana.  I've a growing collection of  'stuff'!  Now I doubt I will see this tree in the same wonder as I did as a child...that's child magic, and once you are an adult that magic has passed, but you can remember the feeling!  In fact, I was sure some other world lived within my Christmas tree, if only I could shrink down and experience the life that lay beyond those branches...and who knows, perhaps it does if we believe hard enough.  What I do know is this...I will look at these ornaments and remember moments...those moments are the real treasures, the gifts we hold onto for a lifetime.

I'm looking forward to finding more of those gifts locked within some old ornament.  In the meantime I will keep up the the end, even though this is not a memory of mine, I will probably go looking for one of those old aluminum trees of the 60's, for our 60's know the one with the color wheel.  It will be a second tree, we have to have a real one to put gifts under.  Bill has to experience his Christmas, in Indiana, with the tradition of going out into the snow, on a horse drawn wagon and cutting your's pretty Currier and Ives!  But life is all about experiences!

And another book before I forget, one that will make you cry, especially if you loved your rocking horse they way I did...."Rocking Horse Christmas" by Mary Pope Osborne!  A great book for the holidays!

Think about your childhood Christmas' and what makes your favorite memories so special.  Which is better, Christmas Eve or Christmas daughter and I both agree Christmas Eve, it's all about anticipation for us!  Oh, and stop throwing out your Christmas trees the day after Christmas.  It's like seeing the death of Christmas all along the roads...just a personal pet peeve!

Enjoy the journey my friends...Halloween is on the shelf, Thanksgiving is that middle child that gets forgotten, and Christmas is already starting to make an will be here before you know it!

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